US proposes all visa applicants need to furnish social media information

All applicants of American visa will need to submit their social media information. The State Department says this has become necessary for “vetting purposes” based on statutory visa eligibility standards.

The Department in a notice put up on the Federal Register on Thursday said that applicants for both immigrant and non-immigrant visas would be required to provide “identifiers” they have used on various social media platforms in the previous five years, in addition to old email addresses and phone numbers.

Other questions seek details of international travel; “whether the applicant has been deported or removed from any country; and whether specified family members have been involved in terrorist activities.”

The Department has sought public comment on the proposed measures within the next 60 days. Earlier, those applicants who were singled out for extra scrutiny were asked to provide their social media, email and phone number histories.

The notice accessed here says that the Department will collect this information from visa applicants “for identity resolution and vetting purposes”.  However, the Department does not intend to routinely ask the question of applicants for specific visa classifications, such as most diplomatic and official visa applicants.

The department estimates that 710,000 immigrant visa applicants and 14 million non-immigrant visa applicants could be affected by the changes that will have to be approved by the Office of Management and Budget at the White House. 


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